Houston County Rescue Requested To Respond To Lake Martin To Assist in SearchRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Sep 04 2021 10:10 PM
LAKE MARTIN - ALABAMA: On Thursday a 24 year old Colorado man exited the wakeboard boat and disappeared under the surface and not been seen since.
Multiple agencies have searched since Thursday for this young man. UNCONFIRMED reports are that he was a fireman in Colorado.
Today, Saturday, ALEA-Marine Division requested Houston County Rescue to respond on Sunday to assist.
The search is reported to be in water as deep as 60' and greater.
Houston County Rescue will join Alexander City Rescue Squad, Alexander City Fire Department, Alexander City Police Department, Childersburg Rescue Squad, Daphne Search & Rescue, New Site Police Department, TowBoat U.S., Alex City Guide Service and Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division and ALEA’s Aviation Unit.
Houston County Rescue Unit was formed 1963 because of a tornado which struck near Ingram Lake in the Enon Community of Houston County. It was formed by John C. Ingram who also gave the land for the headquarters of Houston County Rescue Unit.
In 1971 the Houston County Rescue Unit building was constructed on Enon Road, which sits between Cowarts - Ashford - Webb and Avon. The PRESIDENT was Frankie Ingram, Vice President was Charles Brackin, Secretary was Roy Summerford, Chaplin Randall Dean, and Board of Directors were Don McMullan, Hollis Gamble, Joel Kay, Hayward Wade and James Aldridge.
Houston County Rescue's main focus was water incidents, but has always served or been available for whatever mission they were needed for.
In 1987 Dothan Police Officer Bob Hawlett was fishing with others on Lake Eufaula. Officer Hawlett fell out of the boat. It was very cold and he had a lot of clothes on. Officer Hawlett drown. ( Dothan Police Officer Bob Hawlett was the father of Tracie Hawlett, who at age 17 was murdered in Ozark Alabama with J.B. Beasley. )
The primary tools used by those searching for people of drown in 1987 was by using a triangle metal tool with multiple hooks on it. At the time of Officer Hawlett's death those "drags" were not being successful due to the trees and stumps under the water.
A young man by the name of Wayne McKinnon, employed with the City of Dothan, volunteered to go to Lake Eufaula to underwater dive and search for Officer Hawlett. After braving the cold water with zero visibility, Mr. Wayne McKinnon located the body and recovered Officer Hawlett.
That was the beginning of the Houston County Rescue Unit Dive Team. Many Dothan Police Officers, Dothan Fireman, Houston County Sheriff Deputies and others joined Houston County Rescue Unit to what is now the Houston County Rescue Unit Dive Team.
While many of the original have left, and some law enforcement and fire have started dive teams over the years, it has been Houston County Rescue Unit that has remained constant.
While Wayne McKinnon, who has served as President of Houston County Rescue, remains a member today. He helps teach others the proper techniques for searching for a body.
The VOLUNTEER group will leave Sunday morning and respond to Lake Martin to assist the other agencies.
Today, Houston County Rescue Unit is led by Chris Ball. He serves as President of the unit. Often times you will see Chris driving the Tahoe of Houston County Rescue. At all times Chris has the dive equipment needed in the Tahoe should an emergency rescue 911 call come into the 911 centers and a diver is needed at once. And those calls have happened and Chris Ball and others had rather respond fast and swift for a water rescue rather than a water recovery.
Chris Ball teaches diving. And the water diving for a body is different than recreational diving. With 30 years experience in the water and deep water diving, Ball stresses safety first.
Houston County Rescue Unit operates from donations and a supplement from Houston County Commission of $ 8,000.00 or less. They need a newer vehicle to pull the boat and a $ 70,000.00 sonar for looking at the bottom of the water in a clearer fashion. If you are trained on the Sonar you can actually see the body on the bottom of the water.
All members of Houston County Rescue are volunteers. They meet monthly for a business meeting but train together regular. This Thursday night at 7 PM anyone interested in joining is invited to the meeting at the Rescue Building on Enon Road.
IDENTITY OF DROWN VICTIM RELEASED BY ALEA-Marine Division
Zachary Dakota Lewis, 24, of Parker, Colo., was boating with friends around 1 p.m. Thursday near Big Kowaliga Creek on Lake Martin close to the Willow Point Golf Course “when he exited the vessel and disappeared beneath the water’s surface,” said Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Cpl. Jeremy Burkett.